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Cheers! Making a Hanky Panky with Green Door's unique gin from Kalamazoo

The ingredients for Tammy Coxen's Michigan version of the hanky panky cocktail.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
The ingredients for Tammy Coxen's Michigan version of the hanky panky cocktail.

“Oh, that’s cool. It’s a new-to me gin,” Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings thought to herself. Discovering a new Michigan product in the grocery store is an exciting moment for Cheers!

Tammy decided she just had to make a cocktail from Green Door Distilling’s Botanical Gin, made in Kalamazoo.

Tammy Coxen pours a little of the Green Door botanical gin.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen pours a little of the Green Door botanical gin.

She poured a little sample of the gin and asked me to describe it. I sipped it and then I struggled to explain what flavors I tasted. But, I knew I liked them.

This definitely was not another London Dry gin. It was not as citrusy. It had a warm feel in the mouth, but I could not figure out what botanicals were used in it.

“They describe it on their website as being more herbal than most gins,” Tammy said.

Green Door described the flavor notes as curry, fenugreek, and lavender.

Now, if somebody told me I should try a gin with curry characteristics, that would not sound very good to me. But, it is good- really good.

The challenge for Tammy was how to use this gin which the label on the bottle describes as “warm & savory” into a cocktail.

She decided it might make a great hanky panky.

The hanky panky cocktail is a classic cocktail created by Ada Coleman at the Savoy in London. It was published in the Savoy cocktail book in 1930 and has become popular around the world.

“This cocktail came about when one of her customers came in and he said, ‘Coley, I’m having a really hard week. I need something that will pick me up,’” Tammy said as she retold the story.

Coleman said she didn’t have anything for him at the moment, but she would the next time he visited.

Next time he comes in, she served him her newly created cocktail and he said, “By Jove, this is the real hanky panky!”

Tammy mixed up the drink according to the recipe, using the Green Door gin and another Michigan product, a fernet from American Fifth Distilling in Lansing. (See the recipe below for all the ingredients.)

“Whenever you’re making a cocktail with ingredients that didn’t exist at the time that cocktail was created, you sometimes need to tweak it a little,” Tammy explained. She thought the drink was sweet vermouth-forward, so she added another 1/2 ounce of the gin.


Hanky Panky (original recipe)
1 1/2 oz gin
1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
Garnish: orange twist

Combine ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Stir until well chilled, strain into coupe or martini glass. Garnish.

Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are the authors of Cheers to Michigan: A Celebration of Cocktail Culture and Craft Distillers from the University of Michigan Press. The book is based on the Cheers! episodes heard on Michigan Radio.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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    Tuesday, February 21, 2023 - 7 PM

    Join the hosts of Michigan Radio’s popular Cheers! craft cocktail segment, Lester Graham and Tammy Coxen, for Cheers – Last Call!, a special Mardi Gras themed event wrapping up and celebrating over 100 episodes of the feature as it comes to a close. The event will be held on Fat Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at Blue LLama Jazz Club in Ann Arbor.

    Cheers – Last Call! will give craft cocktail fans the opportunity to join Tammy and Lester in-person or online for a fun evening celebrating Michigan’s craft cocktail scene. You’ll watch Lester and Tammy record a live segment of Cheers so you can see how the show gets made.

    Then they'll be talking with a featured Michigan distiller or two, sharing the stories behind some of the unique drinks and amazing Michigan distilleries and cocktail bars they've featured over the past seven years of Cheers, and answering all your questions.

    Those attending in person at the Blue LLama will be able to choose from a few Mardi Gras themed cocktails that Lester and Tammy have featured on Cheers. The Blue LLama will also have an hors d’oeuvres buffet and a live band to help you celebrate Mardi Gras.

    If you’ll be taking part online, you’ll receive the drink recipes ahead of time for these Mardi Gras themed cocktails to help you enjoy a fun Fat Tuesday at home while watching the show.
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